2) Defense Proves Dominance
You would be forgiven for wondering about the USC defense after the Arizona schools put 93 offensive points on the board combined. The Arizona State game particularly spawned questions as Taylor Kelly and the Wildcat offense had their way with Trojan defenders. Even Notre Dame’s unremarkable Tommy Rees had remarkable success against the Trojans before being knocked out of the game. Outside of those games, USC’s defense was elite, albeit against competition that could be passed off as weak.
Oregon State is anything but weak offensively, which is why the Trojans’ defensive performance was so impressive and why it clears up any questions as to the quality USC has on that side of the ball. Sean Mannion, one of the better quarterbacks in the conference and the nation, had his worst outing of the season by far, launching up three interceptions and hitting just 57% of his passes. His struggles were due largely to Devon Kennard and the vaunted USC pass rush, which kept him off balance and forced bad throws for Josh Shaw and company to exploit.